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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sharks without Daddies, Sky without Theology

You heard it here first. Sharks do not need salvation! They are utterly sinless. All that bad press from Mr. Spielberg and others is just a put-up job. Sharks are pure ... and that's official. Or at least according to SKY TV News. Not that I blame SKY specifically for theological illiteracy. The error of confusing IMMACULATELY conceived (that is, without taint of original sin according to Roman Catholic dogma) and VIRGINALLY conceived (that is, without a daddy in traditional Christianity as a whole) is commonplace. It is sloppy journalism though. I don't know anything about cars but I wouldn't dream of commenting on carburettors unless and until I had researched the basics. So, until then with SKY we chant: "Hail O long-toothed one! Your bite saves us!"

The real story of course is that female sharks, under certain circumstances, can give birth without the aid of a male. Right on selachimorphae sisters! Down with shark patriarchy!


Anonymous said...

I liked your piece on the sharks. As Catholic I'm familiar with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. What is Orthodox belief about her? Is she considered to have been born with the original sin?

Father Gregory said...

Dear friend

Thank you! The Orthodox veneration of our Lady is as significant as that of our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.

However, we do not share St. Augustine's interpretation of original sin (which we call "ancestral sin") in one vital respect ... reproduction. We do not tie our common sinful state to generic transmission, still less suppose that the guilt of our first parents attaches to all subsequent generations of humankind. The Orthodox position is that all share in Old Adam but that conception is irrelevant to this. To be "conceived in sin" as the Psalmist says [50(51)] is simply to say that we are all in the same boat from birth, nothing more.

Notwithstanding this difference in anthropology with all its salvific and pastoral implications we do believe that our Lady was IN THE LIVING OUT OF HER LIFE ... without sin. Her immaculate purity attaches not to her conception but rather to her obedience to God. That of course is a work of both her and of divine grace, but, strictly speaking it is not an INHERITANCE either from God or Adam / Eve. It is a "present" work of faith and love. This, incidentally, is how the Orthodox characterise any active Christian life that is tending toward theosis, (deification), that is, not just for our Lady but for all who follow her example.

JLB said...

Father Gregory,

I just wanted to tell you how much i learn from this site!! My husband enjoys the fact tht you are so clear in stating wehat you mean.

God Bless!!


Father Gregory said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

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